100 Days in India
It has been a 100 days since i moved back to India, after spending a fruitful few years in the US. I went to the US back in 2004 as a graduate student, and later spent a few years working on Wall Street, before packing up my bags to come back home.
A few months back in the run up to the Indian general elections, PM Manmohan Singh promised to turn the economy around in 100 days. That hasn’t quite happened yet, but amreekandesi’s 100 days in India haven’t been any less exciting than a Harbhajan Singh driving his Hummer around the streets of Chandigarh.
I am happy.
Happy to be back home. Happy to not be an alien in a foreign land. Happy that i will not miss important events in my family. Happy that i can get my dose of Gulab Jamuns without undertaking that long trek to Jackson Heights.
India is crazy. There is no discipline. There is pollution. There is crime. There is no courtesy. There is no power, nor water. There are scoundrels for politicians who would sell us all for money if they could. You sweat so much in India.
India has gotten so expensive. It is often said that Indians going to the west would convert all the prices into rupees and get scandalized. Its the reverse for me now. I find myself converting prices into dollars and getting shocked at realizing that a lot of stuff is sold for prices comparable to what you would get in New york.
It’s taken a while to come to grips with this new India. This new India that keeps changing rapidly, for good or for bad only history will tell.
A Paranoid India.
Earlier when i used to come to India for my holiday trips, the family would go to the new swanky malls that keep coming up like Agarwal sweet corners from back in the day. Right at the entry, i would be x-rayed and then patted down. Shoulder, chest and butt. I would protest, but to no avail.
Here in India we are constantly under scrutiny. They make those funky mall complexes, and then treat everybody like a prospective terrorist.
At the office, every day the security chaps will check my bag. In the morning, and in the evening. I lost it earlier this week when he actually reached inside my bag to turn things around. WTH! Not too sure whether it was the humiliation caused due to all these checks, or the concern over all those germs coming my way in these swine ridden times.
For all its paranoia over terrorism, the US is way easier to live in. I was never patted down even at airports.
Getting anything done is such a headache. You open a bank account and they need a million documents to prove who you are. You get a DTH television subscription and they too need a proof of identity and a full set of documents.
God forbid you try to get a loan – there will be calls made to random neighbors to ascertain that you aren’t a criminal. I got to know after moving here that as part of my pre employment check, they actually contacted my neighbor to check my credentials.
A Lawless India.
An elderly man got stabbed to death in a Delhi bus as he tried to stop some goons from eve-teasing/pickpocketing. A bus driver somewhere in Bengal got killed by a truck driver who rammed his truck into the driver’s body after he wouldn’t let him pass on a single lane road. A journalist got beaten up by goons whom he tried to stop from molesting a woman.
What the hell is wrong with Indians? For the smallest reason, mobs start going around destroying public property. Road raged people don’t hesitate in killing others over petty matters.
Whether it is shortage of police staff, corruption, or just ineptitude of our law enforcement agencies, you are happy as long as you are not in trouble, because its a free-for-all in this country.
A Rude India.
All along we keep harping about Indian hospitality and politeness, but things seem to have changed now. In the mad rush for survival among the millions of people all over the place, we Indians have forgotten all basic rules of civility and etiquette.
It’s all about me. You can got to hell, but my life is more important, and i need to get my work done first.
Above all, An India that is Home.
India has its shortcomings, but it is home. For all the problems, there is the comfort of knowing that you are in your own country, in your home.
Before moving back, somewhere in my mind i used to have these images of a progressive India where people have begun to care. An India that is poised for greatness. An India that is going to be the next developed country.
All those visions have long fallen down one of the open potholes in Gurgaon.
Our government may shout itself hoarse about the new world order where India needs to be a permanent member of the UN security council, but all that is farcical. India is a poor country where the people don’t have access to basic amenities, where women (or for that matter, anybody) need to think twice before going out, where politicians are busy spending crores on statues while the country rots away in draught, where farmers continue to drink the fertilizer that was supposed to give them rich harvests, where millions of people continue to live in abject poverty while the Shashi Tharoors find shelter in fancy suites in 5-star hotels.
I love my country but love cannot be blind, and i was never one afraid to call a spade a spade. India needs to wake up and do something about the pathetic state of affairs, before it is too late.
All said and done, India is an adventure, and i feel like a little child learning something new everyday. I may crave for the Newyork style pizza from my favorite Ray’s Pizza, but the Gulab Jamuns more than make up for it. Besides, i can finally go to a McDonalds for one of those munchilicious burgers. (The American McDonalds don’t server any Veggie burgers)
Like they say, I’m Loving It.
(All images copyrighted to me)